BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen and bombers killed at least 11 people and wounded scores in a string of attacks in western Iraq and the capital Baghdad on Monday, targeting mainly police and Sunni ex-insurgents who turned against al Qaeda.
In Baghdad, a car bomb in the western Mansour district killed three people and wounded nine, while four roadside bombs in other areas of the city hit police patrols, killing two officers and wounding more than 20 civilians.
Overall violence has dropped sharply since the worst days of sectarian war, but insurgents have targeted police and government workers before and since a March 7 parliamentary election which produced no clear winner and is fuelling tensions.
In Abu Ghraib on Baghdad’s western outskirts, armed men killed an imam who was a member of the Sahwa militia, or Sons of Iraq -- Sunni former militants who changed sides and fought against al Qaeda, helping turn the tide of the insurgency that nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006-07.
Two of the imam’s sons were also killed. His wife and a third son, aged two, were seriously wounded, police said.
In Qaim, near Iraq’s western border with Syria, bombs tore through the homes of the local Sahwa militia leader and his son. No one was hurt, but when police arrived to investigate another explosion killed two officers and wounded three.
In western Anbar province, pre-dawn attacks on the homes of five police officers killed one man and wounded at least 20, many of them relatives of the officers.
The dead man, shot by gunmen, was a member of the Sahwa.
The attacks, in and around the city of Falluja, followed a suicide car bombing on Sunday at a police station in Baghdad that killed four police officers and wounded 12.
“We accuse al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is trying to get revenge against members of the police in Falluja,” Brigadier Mahmoud al-Issawi, head of the city’s police, said of Monday’s attacks. “They want to prove they are still active and they are still able to do such a thing, but we believe they are very weak.”
General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said on Friday that U.S. and Iraqi forces had killed or captured 34 of the top 42 al Qaeda leaders in Iraq in the past 90 days, leaving the militant group struggling to regroup.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the March election, won narrowly by a cross-sectarian alliance led by secularist former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, strongly backed by minority Sunnis.
No coalition won enough seats to form a majority government, and while Shi‘ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs hold talks, insurgents appear to be taking advantage of the power vacuum.
Civilian deaths from bombings and other attacks were up sharply in April and May over the previous two months.
Additional reporting by Fadhel al-Badrani in Falluja, writing by Jim Loney and Matt Robinson, editing by Peter Graff